Sitting down with AgriWebb’s Co-Founder John Fargher and the Head of Grow®, Rick White BVSc.
In the lead up to the release of the new AgriWebb Operational Planner we wanted to sit down with members of both the AgriWebb and Grow teams to provide you with an inside look at the partnership, product and future features.
We were able to sit down with AgriWebb’s Co-Founder John Fargher and the Head of Grow®, Rick White, to bring you exactly that.
Below are some of the highlights from our conversation, we get into everything from data privacy to scheduling your next dentist appointment.
Campbell: Thanks for doing this guys, I think our users and readers will really appreciate getting perspectives from the both of you on what the new Operational Planner is and why we are so excited about it.
Rick, it would be great if you could introduce yourself, as I think most people will be excited to hear about the man leading the team behind the Grow® programs.
Rick: Sure, not a problem, I’m Rick White, and I’m leading the Bayer Grow® team. I graduated from veterinary science at Queensland Uni, and I’ve spent over 30 years in ruminant production systems both as a private veterinary practitioner, and then in consultancy, delivering farm management advice, and helping producers analyse their production systems.
Campbell: For those that might not be familiar with this new initiative what is “Grow®”?
Rick: Good question, Grow® is a partnership, it’s a collaboration between Bayer Grow®, AgriWebb and DSM. Grow® brings together expert advice for animal production, animal health, animal welfare, nutrition and digital software to manage production systems on farm. This is all delivered through the AgriWebb software platform.
Campbell: You mentioned that the Grow programs are delivered via the AgriWebb platform. We are obviously very proud to be delivering this new tool, but why use a software platform at all to facilitate the delivery of these recommendations and programs?
Rick: Over many years we’ve been doing various forms of operational plans on a paper calendar or on an Excel spreadsheet. Whilst they’ve worked, the reason that we’ve partnered with AgriWebb to deliver the operational planner is that now, the plans are integrated alongside the data and the record-keeping on farm. Because of this, we can now analyse properly the effect of operational plans against previous records on that farm.
Campbell: Let’s get right into then shall we? Rick, what is the Operational Planner?
Rick: So, the operational planner is a digital tool designed to help you plan, track and implement all of your management programs on farm. It’s designed to act like a checklist, so that everything that should be done on your farm in order to deliver the best possible outcomes from a production, profit and welfare point of view, are all listed and covered off at the appropriate times.
It’s a tool that’s been designed with all of the specialists’ knowledge, using all the scientific information that’s available, and brings it down to the important events and when do they need to be done to deliver the best outcomes.
It is also important that you are able to implement this plan and have it supported by the team of people who’ve designed it and can help you with understanding why the recommendations are there, why the timing of those recommendations are where they are, and what variability is allowed. That is where the network of Grow® livestock agronomists comes into play.
Campbell: John, the planner sounds great but what does it actually provide AgriWebb users?
John: At a very top level the Operational Planner transitions AgriWebb from a record-keeping and reporting tool into a powerful planning and production tool.
We aren’t re-inventing farming practices or telling farmers how to do their jobs, what we’re doing is providing a way for our users to plan out their enterprises in a tailored and region-specific format.
The Operational Planner allows users to easily create customised plans for each management group on farm in a matter of minutes, just by answering a few simple questions. As things change throughout your season, you can always make edits and adjustments.
Campbell: John, AgriWebb users have become accustomed to seeing features like the Planner be released but then be continually improved and updated. Is the Operational Planner set to change in the months to come?
John: I believe the Op Planner is not just an additional feature of AgriWebb’s software. Instead, we see this new tool as being core to the AgriWebb platform.
The planner will be used to establish how the farming business is set up, and then supported by AgriWebb’s record-keeping functions, reporting and decision making tools. We definitely plan to continue to improve the Op Planner as we move forward. Future enhancements to the planner will link to the other features of AgriWebb, including automating task management, pre-filling records, financial integrations as well as linking in advisory services.
Needless to say, we are very excited about what the Operational Planner, and the future of the Operational Planner, holds for farmers, as well as those trusted advisors.
Campbell: The results of this collaboration sound like they are going to be positive for many producers but how did the partnership come about? Rick, I know you touched on this a little bit before but maybe to you John, why partner with the Grow® team?
John: We are partnering with the Grow® team as they are experts in the fields of animal health, nutrition and management practices. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of experts in livestock production in Australia, but the Grow® team is the first to dedicate a team of livestock agronomists to deliver meaningful recommendations to farmers.
I would also add, the Grow® team is not just recommending their nutritional or animal health products, instead the recommendation will be based on the right product for the job. Together with the Grow® team, we have delivered these best practice programs, all based on science, to assist farmers in planning and on the ground execution of that plan.
Campbell: We have mentioned them a few times but what is a “Livestock Agronomist”?
Rick: A livestock agronomist is a specially trained person capable of doing, for your livestock enterprise, exactly what your cropping agronomist does for your cropping enterprise. So, a livestock agronomist understands all of the inputs required and when they need to be done to deliver the best production outcomes for a livestock enterprise.
Campbell: Sound like AgriWebb users will have access to some fantastic resources. With this partnership, the personalised plans and general uncertainty, the question of data security and privacy will be a big one. How do AgriWebb and Grow® collect and/or share farm data?
Rick: I’ll jump in and clear this up if you don’t mind John? As an AgriWebb customer, you have access to the Grow® operational plans. However, neither Bayer nor the Grow® team has access to any of your data when you create an operational plan.
John: That’s right. Data is a sensitive topic and we are always open and transparent on this issue. The data we collect is owned by the farmer. We do not share any individual or farm data with any third party, including Bayer Grow®.
If an AgriWebb user wants the advisory services of the Grow® team, the user can opt-in to receive those communications. But just to be clear, individual farm data is not shared!
Campbell: I think AgriWebb users will be pleased to hear that.
Now . . . there has been some internal debate about this new feature and I am hoping we can clear it up here. . . Is it an Operational Planner or an Operational Calendar??
Rick: So . . . is it a planner or is it a calendar? I think it’s mainly a planner. We’ve (The Grow Team) carefully allowed the construction of all the events that can populate a plan based on the region you’re in and the questions that you’ve answered that allow us to tailor specific recommendations for your livestock enterprise. That then populates the calendar with the events that you should follow. So, for that reason, I think it’s a planner. If it was a calendar, it would be something that you could add your birthdays and your holidays in, and it doesn’t do that. It’s specifically designed to manage your livestock operation.
John: Haha exactly right! We’ve built a farm planner that looks like a farm calendar! We cover your livestock operations but not your dentist appointments or partner’s birthday. The dentist’s appointment or partner’s birthday doesn’t make you money – our planner will!
Campbell: So all business?
John: Absolutely, Google does an incredible personal calendar! Use AgriWebb for your farm planning and Google for birthdays!
Campbell: Thank you both very much again for doing this I know our users will appreciate you taking the time to put a few concerns to rest and shedding light on why they are hearing so much about this new Operational Planner.
Last but not least when is the Operational Planner available?
John: March 12th is the projected release date so head over to your Portal on that Monday morning, start a trial on Sunday night Sign up here or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with any and all questions!
Rick: Thanks for this, we are really looking forward to speaking with everyone soon!